- J​an autocrossing the most competitive car he ever owned

Memorializing the Very Last Time

Because y​ou may not know until much later

10w ago
10.9K

As we live our lives we do many things that we enjoy. You may look forward to doing them often but, as you do, have you ever paused for a moment to consider that a particular time might be the very last time that you will ever be doing whatever that happens to be, eventually for it to fade away into your increasingly distant, perhaps forgotten memories?

P​erhaps the quickest, best handling car Jan ever drove (on Mulholland Drive!): prototype Ford FR200

P​erhaps the quickest, best handling car Jan ever drove (on Mulholland Drive!): prototype Ford FR200

I​ saw one of these parked on a city street in the early 1970s: Plymouth Superbird

I​ saw one of these parked on a city street in the early 1970s: Plymouth Superbird

H​ot rods & customs at Goodguys Del Mar

H​ot rods & customs at Goodguys Del Mar

While we may never know that it is the last time that we’ll do something, our words and photos can help us to remember those happy times. Around 20 years ago I embarked upon my journey as a columnist. At the time I had no idea how long that journey would last, or where it would take me but, without having intended for it to serve this purpose, these columns have become a sort of memorialization of many of the happy and particularly interesting times and events in this part of my life. Those columns serve as vivid reminders of those times for me, and they continue to enable me to share them with you here, and soon on my AutoMatters & More website, which will become the online home and archive for all of my columns (691 and counting).

Y​es, these are Minis on the side of a building (in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada)

Y​es, these are Minis on the side of a building (in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada)

J​an drove this skid car while participating in the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving

J​an drove this skid car while participating in the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving

H​ave you ever seen one of these? I is a hardtop Mazda Miata made only for the Japanese market, long ago

H​ave you ever seen one of these? I is a hardtop Mazda Miata made only for the Japanese market, long ago

What are some of those things on your list, some of which you can no longer do but wish you still could? My list of things that I’d like to remember, in no particular order, includes: summer vacations with my parents to Penticton and Vancouver, and side trips to go fishing with my dad; snow skiing every winter in Banff, Alberta at Lake Louise, Sunshine and Mt. Norquay; autocrossing my cars...

J​an's Datsun 240-Z. Many years later, long after it was gone, he would realize that it was his favorite, most competitive autocross car ever

J​an's Datsun 240-Z. Many years later, long after it was gone, he would realize that it was his favorite, most competitive autocross car ever

... watching auto races (NASCAR and IndyCar at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana...

N​ASCAR Cup racing at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana

N​ASCAR Cup racing at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana

... historic car racing at Coronado...

H​istoric racing at Coronado

H​istoric racing at Coronado

... IndyCars and sportscars at the Grand Prix of Long Beach...

P​aul Tracy, IndyCar at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

P​aul Tracy, IndyCar at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

P​aul Tracy wins IndyCar race at Long Beach in 2004 (Sébastien Bourdais, still an active IndyCar driver, is on the left)

P​aul Tracy wins IndyCar race at Long Beach in 2004 (Sébastien Bourdais, still an active IndyCar driver, is on the left)

... Formula One at the Circuit of the Americas...

... and Formula E in Long Beach, California and Paris, France...

F​ormula E in Long Beach, CA

F​ormula E in Long Beach, CA

F​ormula E in Paris, France

F​ormula E in Paris, France

J​an in Paris, France, with an FiA Press credential to cover the Formula E race!

J​an in Paris, France, with an FiA Press credential to cover the Formula E race!

... driving an assortment of new cars with my fellow members of the Motor Press Guild at Willow Springs International Raceway...

... going to my kids’ birthday parties and school graduation ceremonies...

... driving my first car and my favorite car (not the same car, in case you’re wondering. See the Datsun 240-Z above)...

J​an's first car: 1970 Plymouth Duster 340

J​an's first car: 1970 Plymouth Duster 340

... going to San Diego Comic-Con and Tiki Oasis...

T​he Muppets at San Diego Comic-Con

T​he Muppets at San Diego Comic-Con

... taking photos through the open door from 10,000 feet up, in the frigid air, as the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights skydive out of their airplane towards the MCAS Miramar Air Show...

... and riding aboard 'Fat Albert,' the Blue Angels’ C-130 transport plane as it practiced its entire aerobatic routine at the NAF El Centro Air Show...

'Fat Albert,' the U.S. Navy Blue Angels' C-130 Hercules

'Fat Albert,' the U.S. Navy Blue Angels' C-130 Hercules

C​aptain Katie Higgins, about to become the first female pilot to be performing the Blue Angels 'Fat Albert' demo, followed by the first air show the next day (NAF El Centro, CA — March 2015). For a play-by-play description, see AutoMatters & More #376.

C​aptain Katie Higgins, about to become the first female pilot to be performing the Blue Angels 'Fat Albert' demo, followed by the first air show the next day (NAF El Centro, CA — March 2015). For a play-by-play description, see AutoMatters & More #376.

I​t got hot in here real fast!

I​t got hot in here real fast!

E​xperiencing zero G (weightlessness) after the push-over at the end of the initial high pitch, 45-degree climb.

E​xperiencing zero G (weightlessness) after the push-over at the end of the initial high pitch, 45-degree climb.

P​arade pass at a 60-degree angle.

P​arade pass at a 60-degree angle.

J​an does not get much happier than this!

J​an does not get much happier than this!

C​aptain Katie Higgins, Blue Angels pilot

C​aptain Katie Higgins, Blue Angels pilot

For every one of those things there will be, or has already been, a very last time.

As a senior citizen, there are some things that I used to do but am no longer able to do. My kids have long since had what are likely their final graduations from school. Some car races are no longer being run. My parents have both passed away. Snow skiing might already be too dangerous for me to do.

T​hrills in the Del Mar Arena, at the San Diego County Fair

T​hrills in the Del Mar Arena, at the San Diego County Fair

A​ction from the defunct Red Bull Global Rallycross series

A​ction from the defunct Red Bull Global Rallycross series

D​rifting at the Grand Prix of Long Beach

D​rifting at the Grand Prix of Long Beach

As a life-long photographer, I’ve photographed many of the things that I’ve done and enjoyed — first captured as prints and slides, and more recently as digital files. I never used to organize most of my prints, which I regret. Instead, the oldest of those photos — literally snapshots of my memories — were eventually stored away in boxes, not to be seen again for many years, if at all. I still have a projector and screen, if I should ever wish to look at my slides again. My digital images are my best organized photos, which makes it easier for me to find particular ones.

J​an aboard the Goodyear Blimp

J​an aboard the Goodyear Blimp

T​he Goodyear Blimp

T​he Goodyear Blimp

H​igh above Las Vegas, Nevada, as seen from the Goodyear Blimp during CES (the Consumer Electronics Show)

H​igh above Las Vegas, Nevada, as seen from the Goodyear Blimp during CES (the Consumer Electronics Show)

Together, those photos bring great joy to my life when I do take the time to look at them again. They remind me of so many happy times in my life, and can serve as starting points for stories that I may someday tell to my children.

J​ay Leno at the 2003 Art Center Car Classic in Pasadena, CA

J​ay Leno at the 2003 Art Center Car Classic in Pasadena, CA

The next time that you are doing something that you enjoy and that you have done many times, perhaps think for a moment and ask yourself if this may be the very last time that you ever do that. Consider taking pictures of it, and perhaps writing down some of your thoughts. Years later you will likely be glad that you did.

F​ree Dunlop tire tread haircut at the 2003 SEMA Show

F​ree Dunlop tire tread haircut at the 2003 SEMA Show

R​acing legend Mario Andretti & a baby T-rex from Walking With Dinosaurs (at the MAV TV 500, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, CA).

R​acing legend Mario Andretti & a baby T-rex from Walking With Dinosaurs (at the MAV TV 500, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, CA).

Copyright © 2021 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #691r2

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Comments (18)

  • I have lots of pictures with family and friends over the years.

    Two photos that I wish I had; me shaking Paul McCartney’s hand just before a concert in ‘90 and meeting Eddie Van Halen at the airport in Tallahassee (oh, and the rest of the band too)

      2 months ago
    • Matthew,

      By sharing that, you have reminded me that I had an opportunity to get Carroll Shelby's autograph on the 1:18 scale diecast that Ford gave out for the new 2010 Ford Mustang introduction. Since I was there as a member of the Press...

      Read more
        2 months ago
  • Photos are my most treasured possession. 😊

      2 months ago
    • Eddie,

      We are so fortunate these days that digital photos are free to take with our cell phones, and they will not fade. However, their storage devices may eventually fail.

      I had to search for a long time just to find one really faded, small,...

      Read more
        2 months ago
    • Oh, gosh, Jan, I'm so sorry those tapes won't just play! What a shame those camcorders are obsolete! Hopefully you'll be able to get the tapes transferred and revisit those memories.

        2 months ago
  • Jan, a wonderful nostalgic article that made me review my life in fast forward. You must have been in a sentimental mood when you wrote it. I have so many happy memories of things I may never do again, that I couldn’t pick just one of your categories.

    I’ve owned many automobiles but some stand out. My first British sports car, a 1960 Triumph TR3A, and spring skiing in the Laurentiens, Eastern Townships and Tuckerman’s Ravine at Mount Washington. The thrill of driving through the cool air with the top down, and seeing your destination, a snow covered peak, in the distance, would get your heart pounding.

    And my 1970 Datsun 240Z, probably the first in Montreal and one of the first in Canada, was so much fun to drive and so unique..no one else had ever seen one.

    And my 1974 Ford Capri in England was a company car that drove like a sports car, as was my 1975 Ford Perana V8 Coupe in South Africa. While driving all over SA, my fiancée (now wife) and I would slam Eight Track tapes into the player at top volume..the Doobies and Allman Brothers were our favorites.

    And then in Brussels I had a Alfa Romeo GTV as a company car.. what great luck. We drove this car all over Western Europe and in two years visited almost every country. I was never again lucky enough to get a semi-exotic company car, but it was fun while it lasted. The only photos I would have of these cars would be faded prints in old albums, so I’ve resisted the urge to start leafing through them.

    One memory that will never be repeated is sitting on a hillside at the Circuit Mont Tremblant in the late 1960’s watching the CanAm cars race by..”The World’s Greatest Racing Series “.

    If I were to start writing of my memories outside the world of motorsports, I could go in forever. I think I’ll stop while I’m ahead. David

      2 months ago
    • David,

      Your descriptions make me wish that I had those memories, too. What kind of company gave its employees such cool cars to use?

      I vaguely remember watching CanAm cars race at Edmonton International Speedway in the early 1970s. I did...

      Read more
        2 months ago
  • Wow, Jan, what a lot of great memories! I can’t wait to them compiled on the new site! As hard as it as to not have some, at least there are a lot to still enjoy. And I’m sorry to hear about those camcorders - hopefully that’ll be easily to fix!

      2 months ago
    • I sure wish that someone would build me a killer website that could do my thousands of photos justice. I will do as best as I can, but I do not know how to edit in WordPress, with a Beaver Builder theme, and I have so much other work to do.

      Jan

        2 months ago
  • Wouldn't it be interesting if everyone wrote down some of the particularly interesting occurrences in their lives, and then shared these with the world? I'll bet everyone has some interesting stories.

    Jan

      2 months ago
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